Keith Donoghue's Blog: Dublin Racing Festival Review

By Keith Donoghue
 |  4 mins
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Keith Donoghue's Blog: Dublin Racing Festival Review

It was a great weekend for the yard overall with four winners and Delta Work proving that he's one of the main contenders now for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

Jack Kennedy

Firstly I just want to wish Jack Kennedy the very best of luck with his recovery. Does anything sum up the highs and lows of being a jockey like what happened to Jack on Sunday? He gives Delta Work a fantastic ride to win the Irish Gold Cup and 30 minutes later his femur is broken after a bad fall. As they say, this game would tame lions.

Jack Kennedy is a good friend of mine and I'm gutted for him. He's been fantastic in the saddle since his return and it's just tough to take as he's had a horrid run of setbacks. He's a brilliant talent and I've no doubt at all he'll be back riding Grade One winners again in a few months.

Get well soon Jack.

The Positives

We may as well start with Delta Work, I did tell you all not to give up on him after Down Royal and he was superb again on Sunday. His jumping has got better with each run and I thought he had a bit in hand coming to the line. The mad thing is that he's still improving and might just be peaking for March.

It can't be said enough though how good a ride that was by Jack Kennedy.

Davy Russell came there swinging and passed him going well on Presenting Percy 2 out. Plenty of others might have panicked and followed him, but Jack stayed where he was, holding the correct position and it's decisions like that which make him such a good jockey. He knew Delta Work is best played late and he came with one good run to the last and the others couldn't catch him.

It was as good a ride as you'll see and showed serious maturity.

I ride Delta Work at home and it always astounds me how bad his work is compared to his runs on the track. He's just one of those horses who does nothing at home.

I've been saying since March that he should've won that RSA in 2019, and he has gone on to achieve a very high level of form this season now and I think he's built for the Gold Cup.

I think whoever beats Al Boum Photo will be the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, but I'm looking forward to seeing Delta Work push him all the way at the very least in a few week's time.

Black Tears won very well on Sunday in a Mares Handicap and while she can be a bit difficult to catch right, when she puts it together she is talented, as she proved under a brilliant ride from Davy.

Eclair De Beaufeu was as well handicapped as I'd thought and won very well. Sean O'Keeffe was brilliant and gave the horse the perfect spin. The way he won it would be no shock were he to back that up at the Cheltenham Festival. We'll have to see what the handicapper does first!

I rode Duca Da Thaix in the race and he gave me a great spin in 6th. That's his best run for quite a while and the better ground suited him, hopefully he can get back to form now as he is a talented horse on his day.

Easywork ran well on Sunday behind Asterion Forlonge and that was a good effort in second against a very good horse. That winner is one to take very seriously now and I think he'll be hard stopped in a Supreme. I love Abacadabras, and he has a huge chance obviously, but Asterion Forlonge is one who I think will devour the hill and is a huge challenger.

Column Of Fire ran a blinder and he will have learned plenty from that experience. He showed real resilience at the end to stay going into 3rd when he had looked beaten at one point. He's a good horse and it's possible on another year he might have ended up in the Grade One's at Cheltenham - we just have real strength in depth this year.

The Negatives

Battleoverdoyen was really, really disappointing. He was just empty at the end when falling and really there's no excuses. Faugheen rather put him in his place didn't he? He's fine since the race and it's hard to know what happened really.

I really didn't think he was that slow, but maybe he has just been falling in all year in races that aren't up to this level. He jumped really well and was taking lengths out of Faugheen, but just wasn't at all able to get away from him. A longer trip will get the best out of him, but it's hard not to be down on him after that as he wasn't outpaced really, he just looked out of his depth which really surprised me.

Battleoverdoyen lives to fight another day and maybe the longer trip at the festival might bring out more in him, but he has a lot of questions to answer now.

Saying all that, the scenes at Leopardstown were unbelievable. What a horse Faugheen is, it was an amazing atmosphere when he held on - the roof nearly came off the place!

Another one who I was disappointed with was Fury Road. He just never looked comfortable at all in the race and it was just one of those days where he just couldn't land a blow. I'm not even sure if it was the ground or what, only time will tell.

I definitely wouldn't be giving up on him after that. One bad run doesn't make him a bad horse overnight and the run wasn't overly terrible either as he was just over 5 lengths behind in the end. His work had been very good and we'll move on past that now.

I still think Fury Road is very good and he'll only get better over the longer trip at Cheltenham. It's a very hot race though and could go any which way on the day.

Aside from our lad, it was really great to see Bryan Cooper and Paul Nolan win a Grade 1 again. It was well deserved! I was thrilled for them both.

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Keith Donoghue is one of the top National Hunt jockeys in the world, famed for his partnership with Tiger Roll winning two Cross Country Chases at the Cheltenham Festival. Keith also boasts a Grade 1 winner over fences, and is a great writer to boot. Keith covered the day to day of being a jockey in his weekly blog exclusive to Bookmakers.

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